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Posts Tagged ‘russia’

Turkey Attacks Russia: Sarajevo 2015?

November 26th, 2015 Comments off

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey, may at present be the most dangerous man on our planet. Renowned as a brilliant politician domestically, who skillfully manipulates Turkish public opinion for electoral gains, he has also established a reputation for shooting from the mouth without much forethought when it comes to foreign affairs. On November 24, 2015 Erdogan went beyond words, authorizing his air force to take down a Russian fighter jet.

While some of the facts regarding the shootdown of the Russian Air Force SU-24 remain in contention between Turkey and Russia, what has emerged  is deeply disturbing. Even Turkey admits that the Russian aircraft was in its airspace for a mere seventeen seconds.  American authorities have informed various news agencies that the SU-24 was  in Turkish skies for only a few seconds, and was actually flying over Syria when it was destroyed by a missile fired by a Turkish fighter. These facts would seem to confirm the allegation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the shootdown of the SU-24 was premeditated. In other words, President Erdogan had apparently ordered his country’s air force to destroy a Russian military aircraft as soon as a pretext emerged. An overflight that may have occurred over Turkish air space for a few seconds provided that pretext.

If Erdogan sought to destroy a Russian aircraft, for what purpose would he have engaged in such a dangerously brazen escalation of the already explosive reality that is the failed and disintegrating state of Syria?

The Turkish president maintains that Russia’s claim that it is fighting ISIS is a canard, and that Moscow is primarily targeting the “moderate” opposition to Assad, which Turkey supports. Until the bombing of a Russian airliner over Sinai, that was certainly true. However, after the Metrojet plane was destroyed over the Sinai desert, Russia began shifting its bombing campaign towards the Islamic State. Furthermore, Turkey has been playing the same game, under Erdogan’s instructions. Also claiming to be fighting ISIS in Syria, the Turkish Air Force has actually conducted far fewer  air strikes on the Islamic State than Moscow’s air force. Instead, Turkish aircraft have primarily targeted the Kurdish militias in Syria, the same force that has been the most effective opposition to ISIS in northern Syria. Erdogan is much more interested in preventing the Kurds from achieving any form of sovereignty in the Middle East than in confronting the Islamic State.

The most likely explanation for Erdogan’s astonishing decision to launch an attack on a Russian aircraft was to thwart and strangle at birth the nascent indications of a possible grand coalition being formed to combat ISIS, involving the United States, France and Russia. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and the destruction of the Russian airliner in Egypt, French President Hollande saw a rare opportunity to bring together those three countries in facing a common danger. It must be noted that the Turks downed the Russian warplane on the same day Hollande was in Washington, meeting with President Obama prior to a follow-up meeting with Putin. The shootdown of the SU-24 probably has doomed President Hollande’s vision of a grand alliance working together in fighting the Islamic State.

Irrespective of Erdogan’s immediate objective, his reckless decision has perhaps put the entire planet on the path towards an unintended but potentially devastating war. President Putin will be forced to act  in some form, not only due to his own personal feelings. No matter how cool-headed and cautiously he may intend  to respond to the Turkish attack, he is not immune to Russian public opinion. Not only the shootdown, but the barbaric murder of one of the parachuting Russian pilots by Turkey’s allies in Syria–an act that is in clear violation of the Geneva Convention–will inevitably stimulate great indignation among the Russian people.

In 1914 renegade elements in a foreign intelligence service orchestrated the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo. In the weeks that followed, miscalculations intersected with a system of military alliances that put the world on the path to world war. Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Erdogan has already called on NATO for full support in the face of possible future Russian military countermeasures in response  to the destruction of the SU-24. Alarmingly, President Obama has already expressed public support for Turkey’s right to defend its airspace.

Before Turkey’s recklessly irresponsible leader drags the United States into an unintended military confrontation with Russia over events in Syria, President Obama should reconsider his blanket support for Turkey’s belligerent and brazen acts of violence against Moscow, and make clear that the United States–and NATO–will not be dragged into a conflict with Moscow over Erdogan’s dangerous adventurism.

 

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Russia Intervenes In Syria’s Civil War–Will This Be the End For Vladimir Putin?

September 16th, 2015 Comments off

A mythology surrounds the man who has been President or Prime Minister of the Russian Federation for the past sixteen years, particularly among a clique of sycophants in Western Europe and the United States. This Putin myth, embellished by the Kremlin’s international television propaganda arm “Russia Today,” has convinced some that Mr. Putin is much smarter and more thoughtful in his long-term thinking than his peers in the West. My question to those who still believe in the Putin myth of infallibility is this: why did the Russian president recently decide on sending his armed forces to Syria to participate in that sad country’s interminable and ever more bloody civil war?

Not even the Russian president bothers to deny that Russia is establishing a forward operating base adjacent to the Syrian port of Latakia. The evidence is so overwhelming in an age of Internet access to satellite photography, why refute the obvious? Putin does offer a rationalization of sorts; the Kremlin, so says the Russian president, has decided to join the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS. In reality, with Russia’s Syrian ally (and Iran’s puppet) Basher al-Assad on the ropes , President Putin has made a strategic decision to join with the Iranian Shiite theocracy and its Hezbollah proxy to continue to wage war on Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, primarily to save a long-time client from total collapse.

If Putin is as smart and savvy as his fans in the West maintain, why has he not learned from America’s failed overseas intervention in Iraq, not to mention Vietnam? Then there is the example closer to home, the Russian geopolitical disaster of a quarter of a century ago; the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. If an army of 150,000 soldiers backed by massive airpower could not defeat the Islamist fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan, what calculus leads the Kremlin to believe that the much weaker Russia of today can have anything but a temporary and localized impact on the horrendous Syrian Civil War?

It appears that prestige, and a desire not to lose Russia’s version of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba–the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria– are the basis of the deployment of Russian military assets to Latakia. Whatever the short-term benefits are for Assad and his Alawite minority regime, the long-term impact for Russia will be brutally punishing. The appalling Russian experience in Afghanistan should have informed Russia’s decision makers of the dangerous path they have embarked upon.

When Iran deployed its Hezbollah militia, paid mercenaries and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Syria in the earlier stages of the Syrian Civil War, there were predictions outside the Middle East that this marked an irredeemable turn in the tide of battle in favor of Assad. A much more knowledgeable observer, the Beirut-based Palestinian-American journalist Rami Khouri, warned that Iran’s intervention in the Syrian Civil war would only inflame sectarian passions, leading to a regional Sunni-Shiite conflict. That predication had been vindicated in all its horror. Now Putin is doubling-down on the hell that he and his Iranian ally have contributed towards creating. Russia, which today has only a fraction of the military capability of the former Soviet Union, cannot achieve victory for Assad. However, as with Iran’s intervention in Syria, Vladimir Putin will succeed in galvanizing hatred towards his nation, unleashing a jihad against the Kremlin that will not only involve evermore fighters from the Sunni Arab world joining in a holy war against Russia’s invasion of the Arab world. In all probability, the festering discontent within Russia’s own borders among a disaffected and increasingly militant Muslim minority in regions such as Chechnya will be exacerbated. In the early years of Putin’s rule, Russia was subjected to a wave of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Russian civilians, all attributed to unrest in Chechnya. That is but a harbinger of what will come, a predictable bloodbath on Russia’s own soil as blowback for Mr. Putin’s ill-fated attempt to show he can militarily intervene in the Muslim world without incurring the consequences his Soviet-era predecessors experienced over Afghanistan.

 

 

 

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Russia Faces Severe Economic Crisis: Putin, Oil and Ukraine

December 31st, 2014 Comments off

A perfect storm has ravaged Russia’s national economy. With the price of oil imploding, the impact of its decline is inflicting devastating pain on the Russian economy. Fiscally , oil and natural gas revenues account for half of the state budget. The fall in oil prices is compounded by economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States and Canada in response to President Putin’s aggressive polices vis a vis Ukraine.

There is nothing Putin can do about oil prices, especially with stagnant global demand and rising domestic production in the United States due to advances in shale extraction technology. However, he could mitigate the economic crisis through a more restrained policy on Ukraine. I doubt that will happen; it appears that in Russia, as with many other countries, nationalism trumps rational economic considerations.

It appears that bleak times are ahead for Moscow, and Russia’s nascent middle class. Just in the past 24 hours, the ruble dropped in value another five percent, all this in the wake of its earlier freefall when oil prices began to plummet. The erratic actions by Russia’s central bank only point to the inability by Russia’s rulers to arrest what will likely be a long-term period of economic recession and stagnation.

 

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President Obama Fires Secretary of Defense Hagel: Barack Obama and the Audacity of Failure

November 25th, 2014 Comments off

It is often remarked that the Ship of State  is the one ship which leaks from the top. Thus even before the blatantly theatrical political funeral dirge conducted at the White House in which President Obama announced that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the sole remaining Republican in his cabinet, would  be leaving of his own accord after serving only 22 months, the usual “unnamed senior sources” representing the administration were already telling their media contacts that Hagel was, in effect, fired.

The New York Times reported that  “officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel…was brought in to employ.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/us/hagel-said-to-be-stepping-down-as-defense-chief-under-pressure.html?_r=0) The implication was that Hagel was a timid man, originally brought in to implement Obama’s stated policy of withdrawing from first Iraq and then Afghanistan, while downsizing  the Defense Department. With the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a new policy was called for, and a new defense secretary, the unnamed White House source proclaimed, one more muscular and forceful in confronting the Islamic State.

While the passage of time will undoubtedly provide more leaks, perhaps a book of memoirs by Chuck Hagel and further context, this much is clear; President Barack Obama’s national security strategy in relation to Islamist threats stemming from the Middle East, in particular the Islamic State, has been an unmitigated disaster, and soon-to-be former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran and moderate Republican with a strong streak of bipartisanship, has been set up as a scapegoat for the administration’s failures.

What we do know for sure is what both the President and his Defense Secretary had stated on the public record in connection with the Islamic State, also, known  as ISIS, and which President Obama insists on calling ISIL.

In January 2014 Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker, after Islamist forces in Iraq seized Fallujah and raised the Al-Qaeda flag,  “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”  (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/annals-of-the-presidency)

In contrast, Chuck Hagel had this to say about the Islamic State at a Pentagon press briefing conducted on August 21, 2014:  “They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else… They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/21/us-usa-islamicstate-idUSKBN0GL24V20140821)

While the President was initially dismissive of the Islamic State, and has remained tentative and uncertain in his at times awkward responses, Hagel was far from the passive and timid defense secretary he is now being portrayed as by the masters of spin in the White House. His very forceful and articulate warning displays an impressive level of sober realism that is sorely lacking within the President’s national security council, and from Obama himself.

Turning Chuck Hagel into a scapegoat cannot obfuscate the glaring failures cascading out of the ruins of the administration’s inept foreign policy and national security strategy. Obama is a president who loudly proclaims red lines in the sand, such as use of chemical warfare agents by the Syrian regime, and when President Bashar al-Assad defied those red lines with a grotesque massacre of innocents in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Obama grasped onto the flimsy straw tossed at him by Russia’s President Putin, rendering his red line invisible. His is an administration which sends presidential letters proclaiming friendship to the tyrannical “Supreme Leader” of Iran, who almost daily dishes out hatred and contempt for America, while permitting–perhaps encouraging–a senior unnamed official to tell journalist Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic that Israel’s Prime Minster Netanyahu was, in effect, a fool for trusting President Obama’s pledges on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, because what the administration really sought was to delay an Israeli military operation until the Iranian nuclear program progressed to the point where it was beyond the capacity of the Israel Defense Forces to take it out. (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-crisis-in-us-israel-relations-is-officially-here/382031/) No wonder few world leaders maintain trust in the President’s word and integrity.

Beyond the Middle East, President Obama has “engineered” the radical deconstruction of Russia-U.S. relations. It must be recognized that the President himself bears a major responsibility for the deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington. In previous blog pieces, I have pointed out what I believe have been President Putin’s miscalculations. But why did the President send CIA  Director John Brennan to Kiev at a sensitive point in the emerging Ukrainian-Russia crisis? Not only did the administration engage in needlessly provocative acts that exacerbated the crisis over Ukraine; President Obama has given evidence that he harbors deep contempt-as well as profound ignorance-towards Russia. In an interview with The Economist conducted aboard Air Force One in August 2014 the President proclaimed boldly, “Russia doesn’t make anything.” (http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/08/economist-interviews-barack-obama-2) Perhaps the President is unaware that America’s Atlas V rockets, the vehicle used by the Defense Department to launch U.S. spy satellites into orbit utilize the RD-180 rocket engine in their first stage–and this component is not made in America, but in Russia, the land Barack Obama believes  “doesn’t make anything.”

Like the good soldier he is, Chuck Hagel stood stoically and with his dignity intact, beside President Obama and Vice President Biden in the White House’s State Dining Room, as his thinly-disguised termination was being ceremoniously performed. In time, just as with his predecessors Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, he may pen a tell-all book of memoirs, highly critical of the President. However, we need not wait for a future book to conclude that it is the President and his tightly-knit national security team–a clique which largely excluded and isolated Chuck Hagel– and not the fired defense secretary–who bear the historical responsibility for a record of disastrous decision-making.

In 2008, candidate-for-president Barack Obama proclaimed the audacity of hope in a time of despair, and wrote a very thoughtful and sensible op-ed piece in The New York Times, entitled “My Plan For Iraq,”  in which Obama advocated the retention of a residual military force in Iraq and warned that,  “we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. ” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html?_r=0)

As with so much else connected with President Obama and national security, he has acted contrary to his past words and proclaimed intentions. There is no longer hope; the despair remains. Amid  the debris of a ruined national security strategy, we are left with the audacity of failure, glaring and unhidden, in spite of the best efforts at scapegoating Chuck Hagel.

 

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Malaysian Airlines Massacre: Vladimir Putin and Katyn Forest Version 2.0 Massacre: Vladimir Putin and Katyn Forest Version 2.0

July 22nd, 2014 Comments off

The horrific destruction of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is one of those rare events that shocks the conscience of the entire world. While an objective investigation has been rightly called for to uncover the full truth behind this horrific crime, is it unlikely that such truth will be easily discoverable. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, simultaneously  condemned as a rush to judgment finger-pointing at his government, called for a full investigation and simultaneously stated for the record that-without a doubt-the Ukrainian government was responsible.  Meanwhile, Putin’s Russian militias in Eastern Ukraine, suspected by most of the world of being behind the anti-aircraft missile firing that doomed MH17, have seized control of the debris field, where dead bodies, many of them fragmented, lay amid a million shattered metallic pieces of the destroyed Boeing 777. The allegations and observations made by journalists on the scene that these militias have shown disrespect for the human remains of the victims, engaged in theft, evidence tampering and appeared often to be drunk has presented the world with an unedited as well as unflattering portrait of Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian policy as executed on the ground by the Kremlin.

In a previous blog pierce, written after Putin seized control of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, I warned of the dangerous path the Russian president appeared to be pursuing, and suggested a better alternative for serving Russia’s legitimate security and cultural interests in Ukraine, namely  replicating a modern version of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s policy towards Finland after World War II, what became known as Finlandization. Instead, Putin appears to have chosen a different model, one that was created by the CIA in the 1980s when it launched a covert war against Nicaragua with armed militias known as the Contras. In effect, Putin’s Russian militias operating in Eastern Ukraine bear stark resemblance to the Contras in form and substance.

The deliberate stifling of initial attempts to effect a proper investigation of the MH17 crash scene has aroused deep horror and indignation around the world, but especially in the Netherlands-of the 298 passengers and crew murdered in this atrocity, 193 were citizens of that small country. All this suggests that Mr. Putin has drawn the wrong lessons from Stalin. Instead of Finlandization, he appears to be implementing an updated version of the Katyn Forest episode, one of the darkest chapters in Russian history.

Katyn Forest outside Smolensk, Russia was the site where thousands of Polish prisoners of war, officers and NCOs, were murdered in cold blood  by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, in 1940. In 1939 these men were captured by the Russians when Stalin signed his infamous pact with Hitler, which included a secret protocol for dividing  Poland between the two dictatorships. Stalin had the Polish officers shot to eliminate a potential obstacle towards imposing communism on the part of Poland occupied by the Soviet Union. In 1943, two years after Germany stabbed Stalin in the back and invaded Russia, Katyn Forest, which was then occupied by the German army, became the site of a major excavation. The Nazis had learned about the executions, leading them to uncover the mass graves. The Germans of course were committing the equivalent of many Katyn massacres themselves at that time; they cynically exploited the discovery  of Stalin’s crime to drive a wedge between the Allied nations confronting Hitler though a massive propaganda campaign. However, in the fall of 1943, the Russian army reoccupied Katyn Forest, and from that time on, the Soviets engaged in a large-scale cover-up program, involving the creation of fraudulent documents, phony forensic examinations and sham witnesses. The cover-up was very elaborate, though practically no one in Poland believed the official Soviet line about the massacre. In 1990, in the dying moments of the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev officially admitted that the Katyn massacre was the responsibility of the Soviet secret police, and was carried out on Stalin’s orders.  Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, released archives pertaining to the Katyn massacre, including a document bearing Stalin’s signature authorizing the mass executions.

Unlike the Katyn Forest massacre, the slaughter of the innocent victims of MH17 was unlikely due to deliberate intent. If it was Russian militias that shot down the plane with missiles supplied on Putin’s orders, perhaps with direct assistance from Russian army personnel, it is most likely the culprits thought they were targeting a Ukrainian military transport plane rather than a civil aviation aircraft. From this point on, however, the similarities with Katyn became haunting and profane. Putin’s media outlets are already claiming that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down MH17, believing it was a Russian aircraft carrying President Putin himself. It appears that the early stages of the cover-up are being engineered in Moscow.

As with Stalin’s cover-up of the mass murder at Katyn Forest, there are people who will believe Putin’s propaganda, no matter how ridiculously contrived. For example, the retired Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, rushed off a pompous declaration in the form of a commentary, which appeared in the official Cuban Communist Party newspaper, Granma (http://www.granma.cu/idiomas/ingles/cuba-i/18julio-fidel.html). Seething with indignation, Castro denounced the “unheard of news that a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane had been hit at an altitude of 10,100 meters as it flew over Ukrainian territory, along a route controlled by the war-hungry government of chocolate king, Petro Poroshenko.”  The retired dictator wrote further that he  “cannot refrain from expressing our repudiation of the action of the anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian and pro-imperialist government.” So in the eyes of Castro, the Ukrainian President shot down MH17. On the other hand, Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released an official statement declaring that the United States is responsible for the downing of MH17 (http://www.eluniversal.com/internacional/140718/venezuela-acusa-a-estados-unidos-y-la-otan-de-tragedia-de-malaysia-ari).

Those exceptions are overwhelmed by the near-universal revulsion at the emerging cobbling-up of a cover-up of Russia’s complicity in the Malaysian Airlines massacre. I don’t know if Putin is pursuing a Katyn Forest-style cover-up of his government’s complicity in the MH17 shoot down out of ignorance of the growing disgust being aroused throughout the world, or if he really believes this obstruction of the truth will somehow serve Russia’s geopolitical interests. If the Russian president were to truly analyze the situation objectively, he would come to realize that allowing the full truth to come out, even if it were to show that a bad policy decision was made in supplying advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the militias in Eastern Ukraine, would be far less injurious to Russian national interests and his nation’s standing in the world, than unleashing its state-sponsored propaganda machine to concoct a sinister remake of the Katyn massacre cover-up.

 

 

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Russia Ukraine Crisis Over Crimea Could Unleash New Round of Global Economic Crisis

March 28th, 2014 Comments off

The apparent relapse into a new Cold War between Russia and the Western nations over the annexation of Crimea by Moscow  will almost certainly have grave repercussions for the global economy. Starting with Russia, the tensions with Ukraine and her Western allies have resulted in economic sanctions, with more threatened. The World Bank has just released a report, suggesting that increased sanctions could result in capital outflows from Russia of $ 133 billion for 2014, with GDP contraction of 1.8 percent, resulting in a recession.

The tit-for-tat sanctions and increased tensions will also hammer Western economies, however. Europe is highly dependent on Russian-supplied oil and natural gas, Furthermore, the already fragile Eurozone will also be hurt by sanctions, either imposed  on Russia or by Russia. The politicians of the world it would seem are not satisfied with all their past blunders-they now want to start a new global crisis, which among other things, will likely exacerbate the still ongoing global economic crisis.

 

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Vladimir Putin Can Learn A Lesson From History Taught By Joseph Stalin

March 6th, 2014 Comments off

For the past fourteen years, Vladimir Putin has been at the center of Russian power politics, either as president or prime minister. When he succeeded his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, Russia was economically in freefall, and on the verge of permanent anarchy in the wake of the chaotic dissolution of the Soviet Union. Mr. Putin brought stability to Russia, and to some extent has rebuilt the nation’s economy. However, there has been a darker side to Putin’s governance of the Russian federation. Political pluralism in Russia has been increasingly marginalized, and a raw edge to Moscow’s foreign policy has been in evidence, witnessed most deploringly by Putin’s indispensible support for the barbarous war Syria’s discredited president, Basher Assad, has been waging against his own people. All that, however, pales in comparison with what is now unfolding in Ukraine, which unless wisdom soon prevails, may spark a renewal of the Cold War.

It has been said by diplomats and foreign leaders who have met Putin that he harbors designs of rebuilding the territorial continuity that existed within the former Soviet Union. Ukraine was not only an integral part of the U.S.S.R., but for hundreds of years was the indispensible bread basket of the Russian Empire. Putin’s decision to intervene militarily  in the internal political phenomena unfolding in the sovereign Ukrainian nation arouses grave concern that Putin may be willing to risk global instability and possibly worse for the sake of forcing Ukraine to come again under Russian domination, either overtly or in more subtle forms. If that is Mr. Putin’s intention regarding Ukraine, he would be wise to learn from a previous Russian ruler, one far more ruthless and calculating than President Putin will ever be.

Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union as dictator for nearly three decades with an iron grip. He was frequently ruthless, and merciless in purging his enemies. Yet, at times, he could display a surprising ability to learn from his mistakes and exercise restraint and wisdom in dealing with issues that touched on core Russian national interests.

When World War II broke out, Russia was in its early phases a neutral country, having signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. Stalin saw the distraction created by a new global war as an opportunity to recover territories that had formerly been part of the Russian Empire, but had slipped away after the Russian revolution of 1917. Making aggressive use of his military, Stalin seized part of Poland and Romania, and at gunpoint brought the three Baltic republics back under Russian control. There then remained Finland, another former part of the Russian Empire that became an independent nation after the Russian revolution. Convinced his massive army could easily overcome a country of only four million, Stalin launched an unprovoked attack on Finland. His official justification bares comparison to contemporary claims made by Putin to justify his interference in the Ukraine; an exiled Finnish communist was permitted to form a “government” on Russian soil, which Moscow promptly recognized as the legitimate government of Finland. That same rump regime then “requested” that Stalin “liberate” the suffering people of Finland, and restore them to the Soviet motherland.

The cynical political maneuver by Stalin could not cope, however, with the patriotism of the Finnish people, who tenaciously resisted the Russian invasion. In the early months of the war that followed Russia’s invasion, the tiny Finnish army inflicted a humiliating defeat on the much larger Soviet army. It was only after accumulating hundreds of thousands of casualties that Stalin’s army slowly began to penetrate Finnish defenses.

A treaty was signed, requiring Finland to surrender substantial territory to the Soviet Union. This left a deep feeling of bitterness and hatred towards Russia. When Nazi Germany broke its non-aggression pact and invaded Russia in 1941, Finland had the distinction of being the only democracy to ally itself with Hitler, hoping to reclaim its lost territories.

At an unimaginable human cost, the Russians eventually repelled the German invasion. As a German defeat became inevitable, the Soviets were in a position to conquer Finland or impose a communist government, as they were to do in Eastern Europe. However, based on the costly lesson he had learned earlier, Stalin chose a different track. He granted Finland a peace treaty with surprisingly lenient terms. The Finns did have to return to the original border that existed before the German invasion of Russia, and pay an indemnity. However, Finland was permitted to remain a free, sovereign nation, with the political and economic system determined by its own people, without interference from Moscow. The only requirement Stalin imposed on Finland was that the country adopt a neutral foreign policy, and not join any military alliance hostile to Russia.

The policy Stalin enacted towards Finland, which came to be known as Finlandization, served Russia’s supreme national interests well for decades, while preserving Finland as a sovereign, democratic country with an economy characterized by a strong private sector.

As Vladimir Putin ponders his next move in the potentially calamitous crisis over Ukraine’s political evolution, he would render a great service to his own country and world peace if he were to reflect on a costly lesson, well learned, by Russia’s greatest and most ruthless Tsar.

 

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

Hillary Clinton Nude

Chilling video about Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential election from the author of the provocative book, “Hillary Clinton Nude: Naked Ambition, Hillary Clinton And America’s Demise.”

HILLARY CLINTON NUDE

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